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                                                   what follows are compositions by blaine palmer, friend and stephen j. contributor:

                                            we hate that boy. can we really say it was because
                                                                       he was dropped on his head
                                                                                                                              that he did this? we hate that he was
                                                             dropped on his head, but mostly we hate him.

NIGHTMARE the little monster who told me
                                                                she was scared.
WOODCABIN the troubles until a noisey community,
         sawing down trees for a post-office, in the woods.
FOREST-FIRE all that junk late at night.
Only the hatchet-man,
         who spied in on your plans, through the curtains,
         only He will make it out alive.

Costa Brava orange red sunset dusty wooden hands, blue eye lanterns, thin windows, the son and the silver gun toothache, praying for rain, praying for the daughter, the chandelier, the heavy hearts, the heavy hearts, the heavy hearts and failure in boots.

"When I get sperm, I wanna be your tampon"

      Lee Walker's dad, Mr. Walker, was "Coach Walker" for our 4th grade basketball team. There was nothing remotely "coach" about him, but give a man a whistle, or in the case of Mr. Walker, a few rum and cokes, and a whistle, and he becomes "coach".

      He was fat and breathed heavily through his nose - yellowy air wheezing and whistling through his moustache. His alcohol/cigar breath ordered you to "dribble and pass it to Lee" or "pump-fake, then pass it to Lee". I hated it when he got close - never inappropriate, the guy just liked a huddle. God, his breath was like an open bottle of Jack Daniels in an airport smokers' lounge.

      Aaron Martin was on the team. What a little shit. One day he had his "dirty magazine" out in the locker room before practice. The prebubescent boys were drawn to the magazine as Aaron narrated the images in a cartoonish girl's voice. "Oooh, oh, this is heeeavy. And now, I'm going to do some [grunting] bench...pressss-es."

      The photos were of a nude and oiled-up woman lifting weights. Finding this more strange than erotic, I didn't fight through the group for a better look. What is erotic to a 4th grade boy anyway? Everything I suppose, but I wasn't ready. It scared me. As I was leaving the locker room I heard Aaron pause from his narration to sigh longingly and say "Man, when I get some sperm, I'm gonna find a woman". I passed Coach Walker and his breath in the hallway to the locker room - good timing. He took Aaron's magazine, I assume for himself, and made us all run bleachers. After practice that evening, I asked my mom, "what's sperm?". She asked why I was asking and I quoted Aaron. "When I get some sperm, I'm gonna find a woman." She laughed her ass off, then gave me some sort answer like "sperm is what men produce at a certain age," and asked if I had any other questions. I did. I'd overheard Boogie, a 6th grader three times over, tell Amy Cox that he wanted to be her tampon.

      Amy Cox was also in 6th grade and was beautiful. She rode the bus I took when I went to my grandparent's house after school. I loved her. She was always nice to me. She sat by me the first time I rode that bus and said I was cute. It made my year. I hated riding the bus and especially that one; I was the last one off. Amy Cox was the only thing that made it ok. Her stop was about mid-way through, and I swore that if I had a little more time on those trips, I'd tell her I think she's pretty.

      On the bus, I'd sit and watch her. Actually, I was too scared to look at her directly, so I'd sit where I could look at her reflection in the window. This way, if I was caught, I could make as though I were looking at trees which happened to be through her reflection. Of course I wanted to be caught and did my best to be ready for it, hoping to look intense AND cute. I would sit looking at Amy's reflection and listen to her voice. When we came to her stop, I'd watch her leave. Finding useless courage once she was in her yard, back turned, I'd fire love into her -through my eyes, the bus window, into her brown hair, her blue backpack ...all of my love. As she was pulled from my sight, I'd put my headphones on and feel defeated for the rest of my ride home. I hoped for the day she'd sit by me again. Maybe she'd fall asleep and miss her stop; I'd have to wake her up at mine and walk her home. Love felt awkward to me. I was too young to know that this is the nature of love. In my head I saved her from bus wrecks, burning buildings and natural disasters.

      Boogie said he wanted to be Amy Cox's tampon. I asked my mom what a tampon is for. I soon had the disgusting image of Boogie's frizzy and bloodsoaked hair in my mind. My mother continued, taking this opportunity to tell me something of the birds and the bees. It was horrible. So bad, I didn't even know what she was talking about, but it was obvious that she was uncomfortable with the conversation at hand. I just wanted to go save Zelda. She soldiered on "... and I think it's ok to do it, in moderation. I mean, it's not ok to do it all the time. But I can't really tell you what it feels like - you'll have to ask your father about it because I just don't know. As long as it's not too much." I had no idea my mom was talking about masturbation - I just knew that I was ready to go and that I sure as hell would not be asking my dad "what's it feel like?". She finished with "is there anything else you're curious about?" "Nope." I got out of there fast.

      Unlike Aaron, I was in no hurry to get sperm, and Boogie just pissed me off. I would always picture him as a used tampon, actual size; how dare he talk to sweet Amy Cox that way? Did she like him? Girls liked him. Did girls like guys that said dirty things? Was it sexy to say that? I couldn't tell. I just wanted to sit next to Amy Cox and tell her she's pretty. I didn't want to be her tampon.

Rejection from McSweeney's:


I thank you for taking the time to submit, but Iím afraid that I donít see this as a fit for the site.

John Warner

contact: stephenj@stephenjmusic.com                                                                                                                          see the myspace page